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Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics preview: Nets wrap up the homestand

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Photo by Eric Espada/NBAE via Getty Images

A good way to spend your Saturday. The Brooklyn Nets continued their homestand this weekend and welcomed the San Antonio Spurs to Barclays Center. Brooklyn handled business and cruised to a 20 point victory in front of the hometown crowd. After this, the Nets have one more game before they take some time off for the All Star break.

The opponent tonight is looking to maintain their stranglehold atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Boston Celtics have big goals for this spring, and having the best record in the NBA will help as they chase their first title since 2008. They helped the cause with a close win against the Miami Heat on Super Bowl Sunday.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.

Injuries

No Dariq Whitehead or Cam Johnson. Day’Ron Sharpe is back.

Kristaps Porzingis is questionable with a lower back contusion. New Celtic Xavier Tillman won’t suit up tonight as he’s dealing with

The game

Boston won game one and game two.

For everyone traveling into Barclays tonight, be careful out there! A winter storm is expected to wreak havoc in the tri-state area and greatly affect travel.

If anybody tells you the regular season doesn’t matter, I hope Jaylen Brown’s words convince you to change your thinking:

For any team that’s trying to compete at the highest levels, you need to be able to press various buttons and work through a myriad of scenarios and situations throughout the year. Those reps and that continuity comes in incredibly handy when the pressure at its highest

Speaking of Brown, he and Duncan Robinson got into some mess on Sunday afternoon

Eesh. The C’s play tough basketball, and the Nets are going to need to match that physicality if they want to pull off the upset.

That’ll start with Mikal Bridges. These teams are both in the top 10 in terms of 3-pointers attempted (Boston is first while Brooklyn is seventh), so the shots will fly throughout the night. Throughout the year, we’ve seen Bridges up his 3-point volume and be able to go on scoring tear. Boston has a variety of excellent defenders on the roster, and they’ll each take turns guarding Bridges and trying to keep him off the three point line. In two games vs. the C’s, Mikal has only shot a combined 11-31 from the field. The Nets need a lot more from their leading scorer as they wrap up the homestand.

With Porzingis less than full strength, this could represent an opportunity for Nic Claxton to go off. Clax is Brooklyn’s do everything big outplayed Spurs super rookie Victor Wembanyama on Saturday night and anchored the Nets defense. With Day’Ron Sharpe off the injury report, Clax will have another big to help him out and keep the interior guarded while he sits. When Porzingis is out there, Boston is at their best as KP can disrupt an opponent’s game plan and make you pay when you put too much attention on their All Stars. If he’s out, old reliable Al Horford will take on a bigger role.

It’s been a while since the Nets have had a point guard that can throw a good lob pass

That was part of Dennis Schroders’s magical debut with the Nets on Saturday night. The Nets haven’t gotten much out of the guard position and having someone like Schroder who’s determined to attack and drive to the basket is desperately needed.

Player to watch: Jayson Tatum

The MVP conversations will ramp up in the spring time, but usually the best player on the best team gets a shout. Tatum has been good for around 27/9/5 a night and has tortured the Nets for close to seven years now. He’ll be heading to Indiana as a starter this weekend and will look to put on a show for the fans that voted him in as a starter. We talked about three point shooting up top, and JT is currently 12th in the league in threes attempted per game. The Nets’ goal is to force him into tough midrange jumpers and keep him off the foul line as best as they can. If they’re able to accomplish that goal, it’ll throw a big wrench into Boston’s attack.

Ben Simmons is back in the starting lineup, and he looked pretty terrific on Saturday evening. His 13/3/5/3/2 line in 21 minutes kept the party going and gave the hometown fans plenty to cheer for. When the Nets are stagnant and not moving, they get in trouble. It’s harder for them to find easy baskets and defenses can easily cover them without too much difficulty. When players are attentive and moving, it makes things harder on opponents

For Simmons, being back on the court is a great first step on his road back to stardom. With this being the first leg of a back-to-back, we’ll see how the coaching staff manages him over the next two days. Each game is an opportunity for him to keep building a foundation and unlocking new aspects of this Nets team. Against the best club in the NBA, it’ll be a big test of his recent improvements and how far he needs to go.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Tonight’s game will also be a celebration of Chinese New Year.

The Nets will celebrate the holiday in a variety of ways including the first-ever Chinese Cuisine Carnival at Barclays Center. Presented by Venturant Group, supporting partner of the Nets’ Chinese New Year game, the Chinese Cuisine Carnival will be located outside Section 23 and showcase food from six different authentic Chinese culinary brands.

Nets players have already done some sampling.

Wah Yan Ching Nin, presenting partner of the evening, has collaborated with the Nets to create a custom merchandise line featuring two crewneck sweatshirts and a t-shirt. Two items from the collection will be sold exclusively in the Nets’ team store at Barclays Center,

The company will also take over the Nets’ player arrival tunnel with Chinese New Year branding and have a booth on the main concourse outside Section 31 where fans can win Chinese New Year gifts and merchandise by showing a proof of purchase/receipt from Brooklyn Fanatics.

Festivities also include an exclusive red envelope giveaway for every fan in attendance, wishing fans good fortune for the new year. Each lucky red envelope contains a Year of the Dragon bracelet and there will also be free Chinese New Year giveaways located outside Section 15 where fans can write their wishes for the new year.

Yitai Wang (3HO), one of the most popular hip hop artists in China, will perform during halftime, and there will be special dance routines throughout the game from Team Hype and the Brooklynettes that celebrate Chinese culture.

The Chinese New Year game is part of the Nets Unite platform which “seeks to build unity, celebrate culture, and foster equity by amplifying the rich traditions of our diverse community.”

From the Vault

During the game on Sunday, Beyonce did a commercial with Verizon and later announced she’ll be dropping Act II on March. She fed the streets with two country songs, Texas Hold ‘Em and 16 Carriages on Sunday evening. With that in mind, let’s go back to 2016 and an all time cut that didn’t get enough respect when it dropped

More reading: Celtics Blog, SB Nation NBA, Hardwood Houdini